Sunday, August 9, 2009

Steven Raichlen 2 GREAT Chickens and a BBQ Cabbage

It was a trifecta the other night for me and Steven Raichlen. As long time readers know, I am doing my own tribute (rip-off) off the Julia/Julie project, cooking my way through Steven amazing grill guide, HOW TO GRILL. Unlike Julie, I won't be finishing this in a year, but I will be making an item at least once a week. Sometimes I am able to combine... Like this week. I was studying the options, reading over the recipes, and was surprised to notice that there were back to back whole chicken recipes that had exactly the same cooking directions. Only differences were what you rubbed on the bird and what was shoved up its...cavity.

I always make two chickens at the same time when I cook. Even though I live with just MRS. My YEAR on the GRILL and our two non-poultry eating cats (Chang and Eng), I always have lots to make with chicken leftovers. From omelets in the morning to enchiladas to (tomorrow night's) RETORTE's Mexican chicken soup; and my ultimate Chicken Salad; it is always a sad day for me to run out of left over chicken. So, two for me, and I get to do two of Steven's recipes at once.
Whenever possible, I try to buy the no hormones, no saline injected (don't get me started on that rip off) quality chickens, and sure enough, there they were. OK, off the recipes for a bit, I have been reading up on brining, and wanted to give this a shot. Brining meat, especially when you smoke an item will help to make it retain it's moisture. So, I decided to give this a try. It was very easy, and (spoiler alert) it certainly made for a juicy bird.

Brining is very simple, take a gallon of water, add one cup of sugar, one cup of salt and stir till dissolve (it actually was easier to add the dry goods to a half gallon of water, bring to a boil, and the salt and sugar dissolve faster. Then I add ice cubes to bring the temperature down). I saw an easy way to give the birds a bath...I didn't want to contaminate an ice cooler with raw chicken, nor did I have a big enough pot that would also fit in a refrigerator, but this idea worked fabulous...

Put the bird in a gallon size ziplock bag, and fill with the brine water. Zip the bag up with as little air as possible. Then toss these bags into a cooler and add ice to keep the birds cool (preventing bacteria sometimes adds as much to a party as a Margarita). I let these sit overnight. The books recommend 4-12 hours, and I was right at the 12 hour mark. I did swish the water around and flipped the birds so there was as much equal time immersed.

OK, on to the recipes. I made two of Steven's chicken recipes, and I also noticed that the cooking time and temperature for BBQed Cabbage was exactly the same. So...2 birds and one cabbage all with the same stone. For those with their own copies of the book (and it is an amazing book everyone with a grill should own), here's what I made...

The recipe is on page 205
basic introductory instructions with several photos starting on page 202.


The recipe is on page 210
basic introductory instructions with several photos starting on page 207.

AND the Cabbage recipe is...

The recipe is on page 360
basic introductory instructions with several photos starting on page 358.

I do not want to step on any one's toes, and do not want to publish someones recipe without permission. If you are interested, contact your local library and they will have this book, or better yet, add it to your library and buy the book if you want the details.

I do want to post some details about the recipe that I either liked, chose to do differently from Steven's and what I learned.

First, all three of these recipes give detailed instructions on how to cook these on a grill using the indirect heating method. Me, whenever I see indirect heating in the instructions, I will cook these on my smoker. Something important about smoking whole chickens, it should be done at a little higher temp then you use for pork. I fired my smoker up to 275 degrees, which is the minimum. It is also important to know how to tell when a chicken is done. Internal temperature must be at least 170 degrees. Be sure to measure at the thickest part of the bird, done around the meaty part of the thigh. If you don't have an instant read thermometer, you must cook the bird until the leg moves freely around the joint. At 275 degrees, I cooked these for 3 and 1/2 hours. Here's a look at the three gems as I closed the smoker up.

OK, let's talk about the Lemon-Garlic bird first... Incredibly easy. It does call for roasted garlic (so a little advanced prep is needed). basically, (since the name of the ingredients is in the title, and the picture tells the rest of the story, I don't think I am giving much away by saying) rub the garlic and lemon all over the bird, sprinkle on some herbs and shove the lemons and some of the garlic into his cavity. There is also a full page instruction on how to truss poultry, and the advantages of trussing. Never done it before, and now I know how to truss a bird. Here's my bird ready to cook...
I cooked him for 3 and a half hours, then I did the Texas Cheat and wrapped em in foil for 2 hours. When I finally cut into him... Juicy and beautiful!

The chicken stuffed with flavored butter is...guess what...stuffed with flavored butter. I have been making garlic butter for a long time, so no challenge there. Here she is ready to go...

And here she is looking sweet!

And now on to the real surprise... I am not a fan of cooked cabbage. I had flashbacks to my Mom's corned beef and cabbage and that hideous smell. This had nothing to do with that crap my sainted Mother would make (insert flashback shudder).

Here's the shot before it goes in the smoker...
There was a great little tip in the book to make a tin foil collar for a base to set the cabbage on so it cooks upright. It came out a beautiful color, and tastes amazing
Do not think this is your mother's (or worse, my Mother's) cooked cabbage...
smokey BBQ flavor and smell
I can not possibly recommend this enough.

On a scale of 1 to 5, this gets a 5. The butter Chicken also gets a 5, and the lemon chicken gets a 4. I would make all of these again. In a comparison taste test, my wife and I both preferred the garlic butter chicken. The lemon was great, the butter was better. I really liked everything, and will make this again.

So far, Stephen has given me 8 highly rated recipes and only 1 that I would not make again. So far, very very good.

I recalled a song my Daddy used to sing with me sittin at his knee (I learned other bad habits at other joints)... a little Irish (for the cabbage) chicken song that will change the way you look at chickens forever. Next time you are in the chicken aisle, you'll be dancin a little jig in your head...


  1. Okay, first off...both of these birds sound amazing. But I bet I'd be with you on the garlicy one...I mean, garlic, hello! But the cabbage is a MUST TRY...I can almost taste it right through the screen!

  2. The cabbage is very intriguing. I love cabbage, but it gets boring really fast. This looks like a very delicious way of doing it.

    The birds also look totally amazing!

    Can't wait to read about the soup recipe! I actually regained some appetite after making the soup and have had it for dinner twice since making it and it is really good - and gets better with time, too.

  3. Very nice looking meal! Love the use of butter on the chicken and cabbage.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. You've got a very ambitious blog here! 365 recipes and 52 parties? I'm sure you can do it!

  4. BBQ Cabbage? Gotta try that...

    .......The Grillin Fool